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Journal Articles ACM Transactions on Database Systems Year : 2023

Tractable Orders for Direct Access to Ranked Answers of Conjunctive Queries

Nofar Carmeli
Nikolaos Tziavelis
Mirek Riedewald


We study the question of when we can provide direct access to the k-th answer to a Conjunctive Query (CQ) according to a specified order over the answers in time logarithmic in the size of the database, following a preprocessing step that constructs a data structure in time quasilinear in database size. Specifically, we embark on the challenge of identifying the tractable answer orderings , that is, those orders that allow for such complexity guarantees. To better understand the computational challenge at hand, we also investigate the more modest task of providing access to only a single answer (i.e., finding the answer at a given position), a task that we refer to as the selection problem , and ask when it can be performed in quasilinear time. We also explore the question of when selection is indeed easier than ranked direct access. We begin with lexicographic orders . For each of the two problems, we give a decidable characterization (under conventional complexity assumptions) of the class of tractable lexicographic orders for every CQ without self-joins. We then continue to the more general orders by the sum of attribute weights and establish the corresponding decidable characterizations, for each of the two problems, of the tractable CQs without self-joins. Finally, we explore the question of when the satisfaction of Functional Dependencies (FDs) can be utilized for tractability and establish the corresponding generalizations of our characterizations for every set of unary FDs.
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hal-04278100 , version 1 (09-11-2023)




Nofar Carmeli, Nikolaos Tziavelis, Wolfgang Gatterbauer, Benny Kimelfeld, Mirek Riedewald. Tractable Orders for Direct Access to Ranked Answers of Conjunctive Queries. ACM Transactions on Database Systems, 2023, 48 (1), pp.1-45. ⟨10.1145/3578517⟩. ⟨hal-04278100⟩
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